2016 NFL Week 16
Week 16 is here and it brings us a little twist on the schedule. Your NFL Sunday just happens to coincide with a little holiday called Christmas. Despite Roger Goodell’s threats to suspend Santa Claus, it appears that Christmas will not be moved to another day. So the NFL is going to settle for Saturday — mostly. All jokes aside (I’m not ruling out that Goodell didn’t motion for Christmas to be moved, though), the majority of the NFL games will be played on Saturday the 24th this week with just a pair of games on Christmas Day. I know you’re going to be busy weekend, but don’t worry, we picked out the games you need to see.
*Saturday games will occur at the normal Sunday times, 1p.m. and 4-4:30p.m. EST*
4 Game You Can’t Miss in Week 16
Saturday Early Afternoon
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers, 1p.m. EST
Does it get much better than this? Football is always better when its biggest rivalries have playoff implications. These teams battled it out to the very end for playoff position and the NFC North title in 2015 and we’ve got another terrific matchup here.
Keys to the Game
Hog the ball and bring down Aaron Rodgers. Now, we both know these are easier said than done, but Minnesota has shown in the past that they can do it. It helps when you have one of the greatest rushers of all time, too. Force Green Bay to beat you with Eddie Lacy and suddenly the Packers aren’t so formidable.
The Packers are at their best when they get Aaron Rodgers some space to go to work. The Minnesota defense won’t be an easy one to crack, which makes establishing the run even more important. The Pack is going to need some extra effort from Eddie Lacy in this one to keep the Viking defense off balance and out of the backfield. Getting out to an early lead and forcing Minnesota to play catchup will virtually lock this one up for Green Bay.
Saturday Late Afternoon
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25p.m. EST
The rematch for the NFC West crown. The Seahawks were dethroned by the explosive Cardinal offense in 2015… will the Cardinals become the new leaders out west? Or does Seattle still have the talent to take it back? This game will gives us a good feel for where this division is going.
Keys to the Game
Let it fly. The Seahawks aren’t who they used to be and there’s no way around that. Richard Sherman is still great, but he can only cover one receiver. The Cardinals have five or six players who can catch the ball (or run it) and do damage. Seattle doesn’t have the offensive firepower to compete with these guys.
The Seahawks need to keep this one close. They’re not a team that can come from behind very well, so forcing Arizona to play their game is imperative. Carson Palmer is very good, but Seattle can pressure him into turning the ball over just as well — especially when things get crowded in the red zone. Balance will be their best friend on offense as well as utilizing Russell Wilson’s athleticism.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:30p.m. EST
Welcome to Christmas Day football. Does it get better than this? I think not. The rivalry between the Ravens and Steelers is as alive and well as ever, despite Baltimore’s lackluster 2015 season. This would be a good game even if both teams were winless.
Keys to the Game
This is an interesting matchup for Baltimore these days. The Ravens are no longer defensive stalwarts, but they don’t boast a potent offense either. They are going need to their pass rushers to get lots of pressure on Roethlisberger, who will be trying to take advantage of Baltimore’s weak secondary. Limiting Pittsburgh’s success through the air will be their biggest key to this matchup.
Without a major offensive weapon at running back or receiver for Pittsburgh to key on, the Steelers can focus on getting to Joe Flacco. As Flacco goes, so does Baltimore, so limiting his effectiveness all but guarantees a victory for the Steelers. However, that will be much easier said than done. Pittsburgh’s multitude of weapons on offense will allow them to attack Baltimore however they please.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:30p.m. EST
What better way to finish off Christmas Day than with a divisional duel out west? Another classic NFL rivalry as we wind down the NFL season. This isn’t the final game of the week, but it’s the final one worth watching. Division rivals, playoff hopes, bragging rights. Merry Christmas, folks.
Keys to the Game
The best way to beat the Kansas City Chiefs? Put the ball in Alex Smith’s hands and keep it away from Jamaal Charles. Denver has one of, if the not the best secondary in the NFL and it’s going to be tough for Alex Smith to beat. He’s just Manning or Brady. In order to get KC throwing the ball, Denver is going to need to jump out to an early lead and do a good job limiting KC’s ability to gain yardage on first and second down.
The Chiefs are going to need to stay on time with the running game to beat Denver. Their front seven isn’t as imposing as they used to be and KC has one of the best running backs in the league. They’ll need to keep Denver’s defense on the field and wear them down over the course of the game, which will Charles more room to break off a big gainer for a touchdown. Mix in some good play-action and it will limit the effectiveness of Denver’s DB’s.